Reports on products that increase the quality, safety and success of your hunts. If you'd like to have your product reviewed here, email (The author/owner of this website posts these reviews as a service to readers, and does not receive any compensation from the manufacturers.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

For camera, spotting scope or rangefinder, everyone needs a Stedi-Stock®

by Steve Sorensen (originally published in Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine, July/August 2011)

Stedi-Stock® Optical Assist Device
I keep a pair of binoculars in my truck for scouting purposes, but often they don’t provide the magnification I want when I look into the far reaches of a field at a buck or a gobbler. For that, I need a spotting scope. The problem is that a spotting scope is impossible to hold still, and those awkward window-clamp devices take too long to line up properly.

Leave it to a creative service-disabled American veteran, a Texan named Harold Hurst, to come up with an inexpensive device for quick, rock-steady viewing through a spotting scope. It’s the Stedi-Stock® – the optical stabilizer that makes perfect sense.

The Stedi-Stock is a shoulder brace that looks like a small skeletonized rifle stock. It has a forward handle with a 1/4 x 20 camera screw on it to attach not only a spotting scope, but a still camera, video camera, or rangefinder. Rest it on the edge of the window of your truck, on a monopod or bipod, against a tree, or any way you’d steady a rifle. Nothing is quicker or easier to use.

The Stedi-Stock really shines when you’re using a long lens to take photos. I loaned it to my brother, an avid photographer, who was impressed with his ability to hold the camera still with a 200mm lens using the Stedi-Stock. His only suggestion was to add a thin rubber strip between the camera and the Stedi-Stock to create some friction that will help stabilize the camera on the camera screw. After loaning it to my brother, I have one problem. He won’t give it back.

When doing any kind of video, the Stedi-Stock eliminates those bouncy movements that only induce headaches and eyestrain. It’s so effective that professional photographers and videographers on some of your favorite outdoor TV shows are using it. And the price is unbelievably low – just $29.95.

Made from super tough hi-strength nylon, the Stedi-Stock is only 14 inches long and weighs just 6 ounces, so it won’t be a burden when you pack it to the high country or carry it on vacation.

For free-hand use, it has a shoulder strap that also functions as a carrying sling. Check it out, along with several accessories, at If you use any kind of camera or spotting scope or rangefinder, this is the number one accessory you need. My advice is to buy two, because if you ever loan one out, you won’t see it again.

Ceramic Blades Have Finally Come Of Age

by Steve Sorensen (originally published in Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine, July/August 2011)

Timberline® Ceramic Blade Folding Knife
I’ve used a few ceramic blade knives, with less than perfect satisfaction, until now. Ceramic blades have come of age in the Timberline series of knives from GATCO (Great American Tool Company).

During spring gobbler season I field-tested a folder that has the look and the heft of a steel blade knife, but with sharpness that’s almost unbelievable. I breasted out a gobbler with the knife, and it made the job a breeze. The knife I tested is a Timberline Model 8010 folding blade ceramic knife. It has an aluminum handle and a 3 3/16" blade.

For a folding hunting knife, you always want a reliable locking mechanism. This knife has a liner lock that blocks the blade open. The hinge has a silky smooth action with no wobble. The black matte finish aluminum handle fits my hand perfectly, and the engraved groove and dot pattern assists my grip. A pocket clip lets you clip it to a belt or in your pocket, point down.

One hunter put this knife through a grueling field test on safari. He skinned out 10 animals with it, and the sharpness remained as new. That’s because the high polish ceramic edge exceeds the sharpness of any metal blade, and as long as you don’t go after bone with it, virtually nothing affects its sharpness.

If you want a knife that’s a cut above what your buddies are using, choose the Timberline Model 8010 ceramic folder. It comes in a hinged aluminum frame see-thru gift box. The knife is the Timberline website: Click here for Model 8010. Contact Timberline through their website:

An Easy Do-It-Yourself Trigger Job

by Steve Sorensen (originally published in Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine, July/August 2011)

The EZ-Pull Trigger Assist

Most guns come from the factory with a heavy trigger pull because, for liability reasons, manufacturers live by the “better-safe-than-sorry” school of thought. Almost any knowledgeable shooter will tell you that a lousy trigger pull is still harmful – harmful to accuracy – and that the starting place to better accuracy is a better trigger.

The bad news is that many hunters continue to suffer with a bad trigger because low to mid-priced guns often don’t justify the cost of a professional trigger job. Here’s the good news – a gunsmith has fixed that for you by making the E-Z Pull Trigger Assist.

At the Columbus Deer & Turkey Expo, I ran into the inventor of this device, Robert Nehrt. He showed me how it simply fastens onto your trigger guard and adds extra leverage to your trigger. No need to take your rifle or shotgun to a gunsmith – no internal or external modifications are necessary. Assembly instructions and an Allen wrench are included, and you can remove the device from one gun and attach it to another.

My buddy put one on his turkey shotgun this spring, and loved it. I put one on my Remington 788, a rifle that’s not especially receptive to trigger work, and improved its accuracy in the woodchuck fields.

The E-Z Pull Trigger Assist has a small roller bearing which rests on the bottom of your trigger, and smoothly compounds the pressure on your trigger to reduce the pull by 50% or more.

If you have a shotgun or rifle that needs a lighter trigger, if you want tighter groups, if you want your woodchuck rifle to be a better performer, but you don’t want to spring for an expensive custom trigger or a professional trigger job, the E-Z Pull Trigger Assist is exactly what you need. Check it out at

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mueller Optics – the New Name In Scopes

by Steve Sorensen (orginally published in NWPA Outdoors, Sept/Oct 2007)

Pricey European scopes and even high quality American brands are beyond the means of most. But just because we are unable to bankroll them doesn't mean we'll settle for inferior quality. That's why our eyes are always open for good scope values.

Last year I discovered one. Mueller Optics of Johannesburg, Michigan claims "superior performance and reasonable pricing," and that pretty well sums up a Mueller scope. But before I plunked down my money, I went online and read many reviews of Mueller scopes. I've never seen a bad word about them.

I bought the Sport Dot 3-9x40mm, with an illuminated red dot on the crosshairs. A coin-cell battery stationed above the ocular lens powers the red dot. You can turn it on and off as needed, and it has 11 different brightness settings.

This scope solved the problem of what to mount on my in-line muzzleloader. The variable power was suited to my needs, and the scope is a handsome addition to my Savage 10-ML II. I mated the gun and scope by clamping a set of Warne quick detachable rings to the bases that come installed on the gun.

This scope received a real test last October during Pennsylvania's early antlerless muzzleloader season. I've never subjected a scope to a weeklong monsoon before. The Mueller met the challenge with flying colors. I can't argue with Muller's claim of waterproof, fogproof and shockproof.

The only drawbacks I found to a Mueller illuminated scope is that it's easy to forget to turn off the red dot, which will drain the battery. So, keep an extra battery on hand. Also, the battery compartment sometimes bumps the brim of my hat. I'd like it better if they'd find a different place for it, but I haven't seen anyone else complain.

The glass-etched duplex/fine post German reticle looks heavy, but it helps with quick and positive target acquisition and assists my aging eyes. The ocular lens is adjustable for focus, and the target turrets are easy to turn. They require no tools, and feature 1/8" minute-of-angle adjustment for windage and elevation. In my tests, the fine adjustments transmit positive travel in all directions, and back again -- something that doesn't always happen in expensive scopes.

The big secret to Mueller quality is the proprietary multi-coating -- 11 layers of heat-treated microscopic film on all air-to-glass surfaces -- that goes by the trade name "Euro-Coated". The coating reduces glare, enhances clarity and contrast, and maximizes the amount of light transmitted to the shooter's eye. Mueller asserts that their scopes have as bright and sharp a sight picture as many higher priced scopes. They're probably right. All the way out to the edges of the lens, my eyes can't see any difference in brightness and clarity between the Mueller scope and others costing 2½ to 3 times as much.

Speaking of the name Euro-Coated™, you can probably guess where the lenses receive their special coating. Engineering, manufacturing, lens coatings, assembly and packaging are all done in different countries. This multi-national approach allows Mueller Optics to save you money. A dependence on word-of-mouth, with only limited advertising, also enables Mueller to keep costs down.

Most Mueller scopes are solidly backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty, which is transferable to other owners. For warranty service, all that's required is a copy of the original receipt from an authorized Mueller Optics dealer

I actually have two Muellers. Besides the one that rides atop my Savage muzzleloader, I have the Eraticator 8.5-25×50 on my .22-250 Ackley Improved. Mueller scopes are impressive, and more might find a place in my arsenal. The Mueller line includes scopes for archery, big game, muzzleloaders, pistol, rimfire, shotgun, target shooting, turkey hunting and varmints. Go to for a list of online dealers and retailers that sell Mueller scopes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Diaphresh™ – Your Diaphragm Call-Freshening System

It’s about time someone invented a way to solve the myriad problems with your fragile diaphragm calls. This little item solves them all.

The carry problem – You’ll never go digging in a pocket to locate a call. Keep them safe, fresh and handy in the unique, slim Diaphresh Field Case. Just snap open the case and your three favorite calls are ready to go.

The noise problem – The Field Case holds your calls inside, keeps them from rattling, and the latch on the lid snaps silently and securely.

The care problem – When calling it quits for the day, easily rinse away saliva and bacteria right in the field while the calls are still wet. Just dump an ounce... (Read more at NWPA Outdoors.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A New Twist On Turkey Calls From Penn's Woods

As friction calls go, it’s hard to think of a new design. But the folks at Penn’s Woods of Delmont, PA have come up with a winner. Their new friction call named “Twistin’ Hen Call” is sure to turn the heads of hunters and gobblers.

Friction calls are relatively easy to use, and this one upped the ante for ease of use. The Penn’s Woods crew tackled and conquered the movement problem. (READ MORE at NWPA Outdoors...)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gun Boonie – The Raincoat for Your Scope

by Steve Sorensen

Northwestern Pennsylvania seems to get its share of rain in deer season. No, let me rephrase that — we get more than our fair share of rain. Lots of products are on the market to help the hunter with a scoped rifle keep the rain off the optics. Lots of ideas are marketed to solve the problem — from solutions to repel water to mechanical devices that keep the scope lenses covered until you’re ready to shoot.

You may have tried all the commercial contraptions. Maybe you’ve even devised a homemade solution. If they’ve all resulted in disappointment, ... (READ MORE at NWPA Outdoors.)

“Silent Slide” Hunter’s Safety Belt

by Steve Sorensen

If you’re a treestand hunter and haven’t been using a proper restraint system, you’re taking a risk that no one who loves you wants you to take. No hunter who has fallen from a treestand without a safety restraint and suffered serious injury or death expected it to happen. In fact, all of them were betting it would not happen and all lost the bet.

What a sobering thought!

I’ve heard all the excuses. Some even sound like good reasons. Maybe you think ... (READ MORE at NWPA Outdoors.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Floating Fishing Glasses from JKruz

by Steve Sorensen

When I switched from glasses to contact lenses a few years ago, I looked forward to wearing ordinary sunglasses. I quickly found out how hard it is to find good ones.
I’ve tried lots of them, and the pair I wear most is from a company named JKruz, Inc. These are polarized, floating sunglasses made especially for fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts.

Probably the most important feature in a pair of sunglasses is the quality of the lenses. These feature top-of-the-line polycarbonate lenses. They come in smoke, amber and brown. I bought brown because they give me better clarity and contrast, and they’re great on ... (READ MORE at NWPA Outdoors.)

Buckthorn Camo – Proudly Made in the USA

By Steve Sorensen

It’s easy to sell a camouflage pattern. Just design it to look great in a sporting goods store and on the printed pages of a catalog. Then flood the deer and turkey hunting community with plenty of ads in magazines and on the Outdoor Channel. But no matter how good it looks to hunters, most of us have no idea how our camo looks to a deer or a turkey.

The huge players in the camo business, the keen competition among them, and the dynamics of ... (READ MORE at NWPA Outdoors.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Bino-System Might Be Your Best Hunting Buddy

by Steve Sorensen
This system transforms your binoculars, camera or rangefinder from a literal pain in the neck to a handy tool that you hardly know is there until you need it.
You've seen these on countless programs on the Outdoor Channel. The hunter is setting up for the shot, the camera is behind him, and his back fills about a quarter of your TV screen while the camera focuses on the game animal. Two straps appear to cross the hunter's back, and you see a diamond-shaped piece of leather with a logo on it. When the hunter grabs his binoculars, seemingly out of nowhere, and takes one more look at his game, the camera focuses on the hunter. Now you can make out the image on the leather. It's a deer head. And if the camera would zoom in on it, you'd read "Crooked Horn Outfitters — Slide and Flex Bino-System." You're almost sure to see it next time you watch the Outdoor Channel.

It's no wonder so many hunters and outdoorsmen use it. This system transforms your binoculars, camera or rangefinder from a literal pain in the neck (and an annoyance bouncing against your chest) to a handy tool that you hardly know is there until you need it. Gone are the days of sore necks, binoculars bouncing uncomfortably against your chest or noisily against your gun, and the temptation to leave your binoculars at home.

I first saw the Bino-System while hunting with my father. He was never one to carry binoculars until he discovered this handy system. He liked it so many he bought 4 more, one for each of his sons. I can tell you, for the hunter, field photographer, or birdwatcher, it's one of the most appreciated gifts you could give.
Lennis Jantzen, owner of Crooked Horn Outfitters, must be thinking all the time about how to make better products for the outdoorsman. When he invented the Bino-System, he practically made obsolete every other camera or binocular strap made. The trick is that the Bino-System doesn't hang your optics around your neck. It holds them tightly against your chest supported by your shoulders. Like magic, you eliminate neck fatigue, and you'll hardly notice even the biggest, heaviest binoculars.

It's really very simple. You just slip your arms through the adjustable elasticized loops. The leather piece will be in the center of your back. The system comes with a set of split rings (like little half-inch key rings) that you attach to your optics. The rings snap into clips on the straps. The straps are elasticized and adjustable, so the Bino-System fits everyone, and holds even heavy optics right where you want them. I've gone ahead and purchased extra split rings from a local hardware store so I can make every camera and pair of binoculars I own ready to clip onto my Bino-System.

At $19.99 for black, and $24.99 for camo, it's salvation for your neck. Order yours direct from the Crooked Horn website:, and you'll start enjoying taking your binoculars with you every time you're in the field.